“Les Nuits d’été (Summer Nights), Op.7 is a cycle of six melodies for voice and piano composed by Hector Berlioz between 1838 and 1841 in a setting of poems by Théophile Gautier from La Comédie de la Mort (The Comedy of Death).
Although each deals with a distinct subject, the central theme of these melodies – orchestrated in two stages in 1843 and then in 1856 – is loss and mourning. Together they constitute a kind of dreamlike journey to the “land of love”, starting with Villanelle and its light, almost innocent tone. In Le Spectre de la rose (The Ghost of the Rose), Sur les lagunes (On the Lagoons), Absence and Au Cimetière (In the Cemetery), this early optimism gives way to darker moods and a time of disillusion and lost love. Finally, L’île inconnue (The Unknown Isle) with its disenchanted irony concludes on a light, but resigned note.
I have wanted to choreograph this score with music unmatched in its romanticism for almost twenty years. It has now been done, without me knowing really why or how. Doubtless it was the right time for me to let myself be carried away by this dreamy, distant, meditative music to which, in the dark of night, four couples rekindle the dream of dead love affairs before bestowing a final kiss.” Thierry Malandain